This is an abstract image displaying diamond shapes among a rough texture.


During a late night in August 1973, a small party gathered in the recreation room of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. Young men and women shuffled into the building to escape the chaotic streets that carved through one of New York's roughest areas of the time: the South Bronx. Behind a set of turntables was the man everyone had come out to see: Clive Campbell, otherwise known as DJ Kool Herc. Campbell had deejayed before, but that night he wanted to try something new; he extended an instrumental beat so that people could dance while he began giving "shout-outs" to friends through improvised rhymes known as rapping. The change in format would eventually help spark the birth of Hip-Hop, and propel the genre into the cultural movement we see today.

As the music grew outside the walls of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue and into the streets of New York, Hip-Hop soon became a way of life and an ever changing, indefinable culture populating local communities. Kool Herc would eventually be credited as one of the pioneers of Hip-Hop, and 1520 Sedgwick Avenue would be historically landmarked as its birthplace. As Kool Herc said himself in Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-hop Generation,

To me, hip-hop says, 'come as you are.' We are a family...It is not about me being better than you or you being better than me. It's about you and me, connecting one to one...That's why it has universal appeal. It has given young people a way to understand their world, whether they are from the suburbs, or the city or whatever[2].

This "understanding of the world" through Hip-Hop has become a global subculture; an influence that has entered peoples' lives around the world, and has become a universal practice[3]. Hip-hop has also become part of the globalization process; integrating cultures and reminding us that culture is not a set of discrete, homogeneous and fairly static ethnic essences, serving as the central influence in shaping a person. Culture is flexible and can help construct one's identity, especially in regards to language.

As Hip-Hop culture expands globally it continues to have a profound affect on the English language, redefining our pedagogical approaches for L2 learners. In Alastair Pennycook's, Global Englishes, Rip Slyme and Performativity, he argues for a critical stance on the globalization process, looking beyond the notion that standard forms of English are only tied to certain "limiting domains"[4]. If cultures are flexible, then language within a community is too. Therefore, how has Hip-Hop culture, an integral part of the globalization process, redefined the English language for local communities and why has it become an identity investment for L2 learners? Exploring this issue in my paper, I will look further into the connections between globalization, identity and language acquisition in order to provide suggestions for pedagogical practices aimed at L2 learners. If we are to improve ESL curriculum by incorporating Hip-Hop language, then we must consider the various attractions to Hip-Hop culture and there implications.

Globalization and Its Connection to Identity

Globalization can be viewed as the ability for economic, political, social and cultural practices to travel internationally rather than stay within a particular country or region. It has helped move around a variety of Englishes, raising questions regarding its consistent act as a hegemonic language, or its ability to homogenize world culture. English is also capable of seamlessly entering into various communities, constructing new cultural identities. Finding an answer may not revolve around what English is doing, but around how English is taken up and how it is being used within a given community. As Ben Rampton discusses in his article, Styling of the Other: Introduction,

Sociolinguists once treated communities as ideological representations that speakers invoke, foregrounding their affiliation with a particular community was seen to depend on a speaker's early experience with that community as a "formative local habitat[5].

Rampton eventually moves away from the notion of "linguistics of community" and focuses on "linguistics of contact," looking at ways in which people take on a certain language to affiliate with a particular group. Rampton calls this process 'styling the Other,' which Pennycook argues is a way people use dialect and language to appropriate, explore or challenge dominant images and stereotypes of groups that they don't necessarily belong too[6]. An individual may react to these groups in multiple ways, taking on its practices, challenging or reconstructing them. The involvement leads to cultural innovation, as Melucci describes in The Symbolic Challenge of Contemporary Movements:

The normal situation of today's 'movement' is a network of small groups submerged in everyday life which require a personal involvement in experiencing and practicing cultural innovation...much of the time movements are latent. Latency allows people to experience directly new cultural models-changes in the system of meanings-which are very often opposed to dominant social codes[7].

Such new cultural models challenge the dominant systems and influence local communities. The "dominant social codes" that were once prominent in specific communities are being transformed through globalization. Local contexts must be understood alongside the globalization process, as mentioned in Hill's Styling Locally, Styling Globally: What Does It Mean?, "...anthropologists can no longer count on the traditional 'field site' as a significant unit where the organization of culture is grounded. Instead, they increasingly find that flows of social meaning-and personal-must be conceptualized on a global scale"[8]. Local contexts cannot ignore the global movement of culture. English varieties are part of this movement; therefore, the simplistic view that English is for international communication and local language for local identities does not come close to what is actually happening[9].

Social meaning as well as personal meaning is being conceptualized on a world stage. Therefore, the various cultural and social movements are also affecting individual identities. Much of this is perpetuated through globalization and demands a fresh approach to understanding identification. In today's globalized and corporatized world, new forms of opposition and ways of thinking about change must be constructed, which cannot be realized through a nostalgic longing for old ways of identification[10]. Constructing new forms of identification means redefining the term itself. Considering language is a form of identification, this redefinition is important to understanding second language acquisition. In Norton's, Identity and language learning: Gender, Ethnicity and Educational Change, she creates a definition for identity with these ideas in mind:

How a person understand his or her relationship to the world, how that relationship is constructed across time and space, and how the person understands possibilities for the future. I argue that SLA theory needs to develop conceptions of identity that is understood with reference to larger, and more frequently inequitable social structures, which are reproduced in day-to-day social interaction[11].

Identity is therefore a concept in constant flux, a "dynamic and shifting nexus of multiple subject positions..."[12]. The consistent change and reformation of identity is a constant struggle for the agent, and a frequent attempt to disclose a certain perception of themselves. As Bourdieu describes in Identity and Representation, "struggles over ethnic or regional identity...are a particular case of the different struggles over classifications, struggles over the monopoly of the power to make people see and believe, to get them to know and recognize"[13]. Language acquisition has always been a part of this struggle, and has never been just a gateway for communication. Acquiring a new language is where power is formed and performed based on certain individual labels such as race, sexuality or social class. Committing oneself to "styling the Other" is projecting a particular subjectivity that may have consequences in the actual learning of the language. This perception of identity can have implications for a language-learning classroom considering language is being developed both inside and outside of school for various reasons. Are L2 educators suppose to ignore the motives behind students language-learning outside of the classroom? How then is identity transformed through second language acquisition? Looking closer into the Hip-Hop culture, we can navigate some of the reasons behind a student's language choice and connect them to pedagogical practices within the classroom.

Hip-hop as an Identity Transformative Tool

The Hip-Hop culture that started in the South Bronx has become a cultural movement, which has expanded around the globe. In its most basic form, Hip-Hop can be defined as a popular sub-culture that is made of those devoted to listening to rap music. However, Hip-Hop has grown from a sub-culture of "rappers" to a global community that incorporates and influences multiple discursive practices such as music, fashion, and language. The culture that once started from the margins of society has become a global force in the contextualization of local communities and reformation of identity. Referring to Hip-Hop as a culture has been in normative use for quite some time now, and there is a sense in both the public and academic arenas that when we refer to "Hip-Hop" we all know what we are referring to. However, the normative use of "Hip-Hop culture" can become problematic when considering practices across "wide-ranging and diverse scenes and contexts"[14]. Perceiving Hip-Hop culture as a monolithic concept disregards the complex and diverse Hip-Hop practices that are now spanning the globe. As the movement grows and scholarship on Hip-Hop continues, the notion that this cultural phenomenon can be pinned to one definition is dismissing the complex, identity struggles that are developing on a local level. However, considering that Hip-Hop is mostly dominated by rapping, language is perhaps the most effective way to read Hip-Hop culture[15]. Entering into the Hip-Hop community means integrating and challenging one's own language with the language identified within Hip-Hop culture. Therefore questions are being raised: How does Hip-Hop challenge dominant languages while at the same time function as an important site for language pedagogy? What are the implications for language policies and pedagogies in regards to L2 learners?

Local identity: Hip-Hop Culture's Affect on Dominant Notions of English

As noted earlier, identity is considered a concept that is in constant flux, an unstable entity that is not carved from the inside out or the outside in. An individual has agency to act on the constraints of his or her own environment, continuously altering or reforming their identity[16]. A "social turn" in recent Second Language Acquisition studies has helped push for a larger focus on the relationship between language use and identity. Language learners are therefore constructing identities other than that of a language learner.

David Block argues that language learners who cross language and cultural borders destabilize their sense of self-identity, which in turn leads to struggle and the creation of third place identities[17]. While I agree with Block, I also believe such destabilization has a larger impact on the local community and its relation with certain cultural norms and local languages. For example, Hip-Hop culture has not only assisted in destabilizing identity of language learners, but has also transformed our notion of the English language and its normative usage. English has become more than just a language used for "international communication," but has been a tool used to identify with certain cultural constructs[18]. Therefore, communities must acknowledge that Hip-Hop culture is assisting in redefining their space, specifically redefining the community through language crossing. For example, Pennycook examined the Japanese rapper Rip Slyme who uses common language seen in English rap along with three types of Japanese dialect (kanji, katakana, hiragana) to create the Hip-Hop lyrics in his song, Bring Your Style. If rappers such as Rip-Slyme are constructing lyrics through a mix of various identities, is he still reflecting Japanese language and culture? What then does it mean to be part of the 'Japanese community?[19] These questions are not easily answered. However, perceiving globalized Hip-Hop as a vehicle to promote 'English Linguistic Hegemony' and increase the 'structural power' of English seems limiting since many language learners are not simply learning English to communicate outside their communities, but rather trying to redefine those local spaces. Linguistic imperialism fails to consider why language learners choose to use certain forms of English, ignoring L2 leaner's "sense of agency, resistance or appropriation"[20]. We must consider the complexities that reside within the linguistic features of globalized Hip-Hop if we are to make movements towards Hip-Hop pedagogy for L2 learners. The linguistic dimensions of globalized Hip-Hop should not be understood simply as a byproduct of English as an American export. Today's Hip-Hop movement is a cultural and linguistic exchange among a variety of ethnic groups reaching across the globe. Therefore, the colorful, creative and sometimes rebellious characteristics that make Hip-Hop language appealing to a young audience cannot be ignored. Remembering the words of DJ Kool Herc, "Hip-Hop says, 'come as you are.' We are a family. It ain't about security. It ain't about bling-bling. It ain't about how much your gun can shoot[21]. Historically, rap has formed a voice for the marginalized, and performed as a language that addresses silence and the state of being silenced[22]. This does not mean Hip-Hop is free from judgment, since voices from its community have been criticized for promoting violence, sexism and homophobia. While we cannot ignore these arguments, they must also not constrain the notion that Hip-Hop culture is a site of hope and possibility for language learners when constructing their identity through acquisition[23]. Therefore, globalized Hip-Hop carries over new values in regards to the English language such as family, hope, creativity and expression. These values push up against the typical notion of English as a dominant, hegemonic language, attempting to homogenize world culture or conflict with local communities. I am not attempting to disregard the position of power that English has constructed for itself amongst the world languages; however, due to globalization we cannot consistently reduce ourselves to old arguments about imperialism and homogeneity, but instead view language in terms of transcultural flows and translocalizations[24]. In doing so, we can begin to understand what motivates L2 Learners towards a particular language ideology while also developing pedagogical practices with these motivations in mind.

Individual Identity: Hip-Hop's Attraction for Language Learners

A consistent critique of race, class and gender issues has been present in the world of Hip-Hop since its conception in the 1970's. Many of the voices within Hip-Hop culture have come from marginalized positions, challenging the dominant ideologies that have been prevalent in America during the late twentieth century. As a counter-hegemonic force, Hip-Hop has mostly come in the form of personal narrative. These personal stories can resonate with an individual, building connections with others who may find themselves in marginalized positions. In Ibrahhim's Becoming Black: Rap and Hip-Hop, Race, Gender, Identity and the Politics of Language, he observed a small Franco-Ontarian high school in Canada for six months, where Continental Africans constituted as the majority. Ibrahhim noticed in his study that because the students had few African American friends and limited daily contact with them, they "accessed Black cultural identities and Black linguistic practice in and through Black popular culture, especially rap music"[25]. These identifications led to building language learning strategies, as in the case of Jamal:

In learning ESL in general and BSE in particular through music, Jamal used significant strategies, including listening, reading, and repeating. He was listening to the tunes and lyrics while reading and following the written text. (363)

Ibrahhim argues that much of "Western hegemonic representations of Blackness" are mostly negative, and once African youths encounter these negative representations, they look for positive identity formation within Black cultural and representational concepts[26]. This argument was also recently put forth by Deborah Sanchez in Hip-Hop in a Hybrid Text in a Postsecondary English Class where she examines the writing of an African American student in a transitional college. Sanchez examines certain features of AAVE language such as the usage of "Why" in a text to argue that such actions are used in writing to form a "street-conscious identity and converse with an African American audience who share similar experiences"[27]. Ultimately, Sanchez argues that a Hip-Hop discourse helps African American students find agency, question the world around them and can possibly get them closer to understanding academic writing[28]. While elements of Hip-Hop present a positive image for African immigrants to latch onto, I would also argue that much of their attachment to Hip-Hop culture comes from its ability to speak for those who are silenced and are not part of the dominant groups. As Ibrahhim suggests, "one invests where one sees oneself mirrored"[29]. It is no surprise, then, that language learners who feel marginalized within a new culture because of issues such as skin color may look to learn the language through cultural groups that rest on the margins as well.

Both of these attractions to Hip-Hop culture may also be a response to how L2 learners perceive their U.S peers to imagine them. In Krystal Small's article Flipping the Script: (Re)constructing Personhood Through Hip Hop Languaging In a U.S High School, she follows four young women from Africa and examines how they use language that attempts to counteract the pervasive 'primitive African' model of personhood[30]. Like the studies conducted before, Small argues that L2 learners may be seeing Hip-Hop language as a site of positive identification; however, she goes on to imply that African transnational students seem to be attracted to certain representations of African Blackness that they then synthesize with practices from their home cultures in order to build social capital[31]. Small's observation is very similar to Catrice Barrett's central claim in Hip-Hopping Across China: Intercultural Formulations of Local Identities when she argues that global Hip-Hop representations are recruited in Chinese communities and "reanalyzed according to their ability to promote practices rooted in local significance"[32]. In an attempt to reimage Hip-Hop for their local communities, Chinese Hip-Hop artists seek out an authentic brand of Hip-Hop that they can call their own. Barrett argues that such notions of authenticity must be discovered through local efforts to inspect and reform constructions of identity within Chinese Hip-Hop discourses[33]. Both Barrett and Smalls notice that global representations of Hip-Hop are quite often blended with local constructs, whether to redefine one's own identity or local community. In thinking about pedagogical practices for L2 learners, we should remember that students might not be looking to shed their local community practices or completely reinvent themselves when gravitating towards Hip-Hop. Moreover, Hip-Hop based curriculum for L2 learners should not seek to position students strictly within the Hip-Hop community but allow them to blend their own ways of learning language with Hip-Hop discourse. This way, students who are not seeking to fully assimilate into Hip-Hop culture have an opportunity to engage with both critical and standard literacy practices.

Pedagogical approaches involving Hip-Hop should also consider the notion that some L2 learners assimilate Hip-Hop practices in order to counter institutionalized norms. Catrice Barrett also argues that many L2 learners connect with Hip-Hop culture because of its position outside the dominant discourse. While Hip-Hop is a form of self-expression and creativity, "in China, the idea of showcasing oneself as an individual is often at odds with institutionalized interactional norms"[34]. Barrett discusses an interview with the Chinese rapper Blakk Bubble who claims his desire to become a Hip-Hop artist was in direct response to what he saw as teachers' contempt for individual thinking. The interview leads Barrett to claim that Hip-Hop may be a "counterperformance of acquiescent persona expected by wider fractions of society"[35]. While I am not claiming that all Chinese "institutionalized norms" are anti-individualistic, the example of Blakk Bubble suggests that Hip-Hop language may be positioning itself as a "counterperformance" to dominant groups in other areas of the world. This notion of performance relates to Pennycook's understanding of performativity:

...performativity questions the notion of prior, pre-given identities. It is not that people use language varieties because of who they are, but rather that we perform who we are by (amongst other things) using varieties of language[36].

Like the African students in Canada, Blakk Bubble is making connections with the Hip-Hop culture based on a desire to be seen outside of the dominant discourse. If this proves to be the case then a teacher, one who upholds the values of a particular educational institution, may have difficulties getting students interested in Hip-Hop pedagogy within a classroom setting. Before constructing a Hip-Hop curriculum, educators should understand their position as a representative of the dominate discourse, one who may stand in direct opposite to the values of the Hip-Hop community. To counter this notion, teachers can find ways for students to co-construct the lesson by allowing them to bring in their own Hip-Hop music or lyrics from outside the walls of the institution. Such a response would not only give the students more agency within the curriculum, but also align the values of the lesson plan with the values seen in Hip-Hop discourse.

That being said, all language learners may not feel marginalized or perceive Hip-Hop as a marginalized culture. Hip-Hop has developed many identities over the years, which extend beyond its original perception as the "voice for the voicelessness"[37]. Hip-Hop culture today transcends rap music and has become "big business"[38]. An estimate of its contribution to our country's economy range in the billions, and it's becoming the most diverse and dominant form of popular culture. Therefore, language learners may be investing in Hip-Hop culture to gain value or recognition within a particular culture, obtaining what they see as symbolic capital. In Bourdieu, Hip-Hop and out-of-school literacies, M. Hill argues that "in order to privilege out-of-school literacy practices within the classroom, educators must effectuate a radical redistribution of symbolic capital that results in the decentering of traditional academic literacies"[39]. M. Hill labels Hip-Hop literacy as symbolic capital for students outside of the classroom, and examines the effectiveness of Hip-Hop texts by observing interactions between students in a formal pedagogical setting. Based on his findings, he argues for the need to construct pedagogy that attends to the "inevitable redistribution of symbolic" capital, specifically Hip-Hop, into the classroom[40]. Therefore, language learners may be gravitating towards Hip-Hop culture to build a more prestigious image for themselves, one that doesn't rest within the margins but is centered within their given context.

Whether students are gravitating towards Hip-Hop to intentionally or unintentionally authenticate its local brand in their communities, or assimilating Hip-Hop practices in order to resist dominate ideologies, we as educators need to be aware that their motivations are varied and aren't necessarily static. In other words, depending on the social context, students may have different reasons as to why they are appropriating Hip-Hop discourse. In noting this, it could be wise to envision a Hip-Hop pedagogy that attempts to reach various goals with its intended audience in order to capture the attention of those who seek and do not seek the Hip-Hop identity. In Catrice Barrett's (Re)Imaging TESOL through Critical Hip Hop Literacy, she utilizes Hip-Hop pedagogy within a high school classroom and draws attention to the social issues and power relations that are conveyed through Hip-Hop literacies[41]. Barrett argues that while critical approaches on language and literacy instruction may seem distracting in an ESL course, a balance between traditional language instruction and critical literacy will further our exploration and serve as a call to question and critique current approaches in the TESOL classroom. Regardless of how students relate to Hip-Hop discourse, Barrett explains how there is value in seeing how different social groups act, interact, believe and value certain worldviews. Educating students on these varieties of social groups, no matter what their relationship is towards them, can prove beneficial when considering what critical literacy has to offer. As Barrett describes, "The tenets of critical literacy disrupt conceptions of literacy as an ideologically neutral or purely cognitive pedagogical process...This study is thus concerned with these transformative capacities and the ways that they are activated, analyzed and reformed through interaction with Hip-Hop literacy practices"[42]. In her concluding statements, Barrett notes the importance of a balanced approach to Hip-Hop pedagogy, arguing that "activities should not be structured...simply [to] create new hegemonies that privileged those familiar with the genre"[43]. In making suggestions for pedagogical approaches, Barrett suggests educating students on the larger social principals that Hip-Hop lyrics discuss, engaging students on topics that can empower them within a community. Deborah Sanchez, in Hip-Hop and A Hybrid Text in a Postsecondary English Class, makes a similar argument by examining how educators can appreciate and value student linguistic competencies and challenge the supremacy of Standard American English by incorporating Hip-Hop literacy in the classroom[44]. Sanchez invited 15 students to a research study to critically examine how Hip-Hop literacies could help students with their academic writing. Through the analysis of one student's writing in particular, Sanchez draws ties between the integrations of Hip-Hop literacies and the control of academic literacy in order to empower AAL (African American Language)[45]. Like Barrett, Sanchez wants to question the status quo in the academic classroom by exploring new pedagogical approaches that incorporate outside social contexts. "Although no one would argue that educators must teach the standard form...just as important, we must continue to work against the system to change the narrow view of what counts as standard"[46]. While Barrett see's Hip-Hop as a venue for critical literacy, Sanchez offers Hip-Hop discourse as an entry point towards improving student's academic writing. Both authors, however, look to blend Hip-Hop and standard pedagogical practices in order to empower the students while keeping in mind the practical applications of the lesson plan. In accepting the fact that students may be drawn to Hip-Hop for various reasons, these pedagogical practices infuse Hip-Hop literacy with standard pedagogical practices. In attempt to avoid new hegemonies that privilege Hip-Hop listeners, pedagogical practices involving Hip-Hop literacy should make sure that the curriculum reaches for objectives that can be universally relatable such as educating on important social principles and improving academic literacy.

Hip-Hop Inside and Outside of School

Based on the connections between identity and language, it seems fairly certain that language learners have much more at stake than simply developing competence in another linguistic code. Language conditions our expectations and desires while communicating what might be possible in terms of our identities and the various realities we might construct"[47]. Therefore, acknowledging Hip-Hop culture as a vehicle for acquiring the English language may prove beneficial for language-learning institutions. If students are motivated to transform their identities through the use and understanding of Hip-Hop culture, then why not incorporate it into formal learning within the classroom?

Integrating Hip-Hop culture into second language learning pedagogy is not free from critique. Hip-Hop is valued as much as it is criticized in popular culture, arousing anger in those who find certain rap lyrics offensive. Ibrahhim claims that all Hip-Hop should not be readily consumed in the classroom but critically framed, reviewed and engaged with[48]. On the other hand, J. Hill has argued that crossing may constitute misuse, which leaves behind nothing of worth for the "source population". Certain source populations believe that crossing is an illegitimate use of their resource, and an attempt to "delimit and control what the resource shall mean"[49]. However, ignoring the spaces that L2 learners see as sites for investment and identification is limiting the opportunities an ESL teacher can bring in the classroom. We must head the advice of Hip-Hop's largest critics, such as Jeff Chang who states, "Hip-Hop is a family so everybody has got to pitch in. East, west, north or south- we come from one coast and that coast was Africa"[50].

We will never be able to identify each different site in which our students invest their identities and desires, however, we cannot digress into what Vivian Cook describes as comparative fallacy: the willingness to judge language learners based on limited unjust norms. Multilinguals are not moving towards someone else's target, they are creating their own norms for acquisition"[51]. As educators, we then have to learn what these potential targets are and refashion our pedagogy to accommodate the modes of communication seen outside the classroom.

Peter Skehan discusses a sociocultural approach to task-based pedagogy that highlights interaction and would allow participants to shape a task to "their own ends" and build meaning mutually, which creates something "unpredictable and personal"[52]. In relation to Hip-Hop culture, that could mean creating, negotiating and critiquing conversations in the classroom that mimics a conversation seen within their social context. Therefore, tasked-based instruction would utilize students as a resource, gaining insight into their social contexts in order to integrate it with task-based models. Swain and Lapkin used this approach during their research on an immersion programs in Ontario. While structural development was a main focus, the various tasks used were constructed by participants through interaction[53]. The interactions were set up so that each learner could contribute their own style of language and each participant would learn from the other. Such a process could work with various cultural models such as Hip-Hop, allocating space for the students to bring the identities that they invest in into the classroom. Essentially, task-based instruction should keep in mind that acquisition for L2 learners is not a growing process but "an ability to come up with diverse strategies for speech events that need to be addressed for their own sake"[54]. These "speech events" continue to vary as linguistic diversity increases and affiliations with local and global language groups continue to change in part to globalization. The Hip-Hop culture has become an increasingly popular global language group that should not remain on the outside of our task-based pedagogies.

Conclusion: Hip-Hop Has Entered the Conversation

Rap artist Yasiin Bey, better known by his former stage name, Mos Def, addresses what he thinks the future holds for Hip-Hop in his song, "Fear Not of Man":

...People talk about Hip-Hop like it's some giant livin in the hillside comin down to visit the townspeople. We (are) Hip-Hop. Me, You, everybody, we are Hip-Hop. So Hip-Hop is going where we goin. So the next time you ask yourself where Hip-Hop is goin, ask yourself...where am I goin? How am I doin?[55]

Bey captures the prevailing notion of uncertainty and fear in regards to Hip-Hop with his metaphor relating Hip-Hop to some "giant living in the hillside." When in reality, many of us "are Hip-Hop," or at least feel a part of us is connected to the culture, whether it be through our fashion, music tastes or language. Globalization has made this reality even more prevalent in the modern world, allowing Hip-Hop culture to reform our local communities and help shape individual identities. In relation to language learners, Hip-Hop has helped redefine English as a global language and made us think critically about how it operates around the world. It is no longer effective to look for varieties of English as alternatives on a "central linguistic monolith"[56]. Whether it is to gain social capital or relate to a marginalized community, English is being acquired through the Hip-Hop cultural model in order to reconstruct identity. Therefore, what we are learning is that "acquisition aims towards versatility and agility, not mastery and control"[57]. This understanding should have implications in formal learning instruction; using students as a resource and having task-based instruction recognizes communication practices that are happening outside the classroom. However, while incorporating Hip-Hop literacy into an ESL classroom may prove beneficial, we must remember that L2 learners incorporate Hip-Hop practices for various reasons. Understanding this claim will help us improve our Hip-Hop pedagogical approaches so that our curriculum looks to empower the language learner while still providing practical instruction. The Hip-Hop culture has come a long way since its early days in 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. It is time that we, as a Global community and as SLA scholars recognize is influence as a language-learning tool.


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Firth, Alan and Johannes Wagner.1997. "On Discourse, Communication and (some) Fundamental Concepts in SLA research." In Modern Language Journal, 81(3): 285-300.

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Miller, Elizabeth and Jane Zuengler.2006. "Cognitive and Sociocultural Perspectives: Two Parallel SLA worlds?" In TESOL Quarterly, 40(1): 35-58.

Levy, Claire.2001. "Rap in Bulgaria: Between Fashion and Reality." In Tony Mitchell (ed.) Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the U.S.A. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. 134-148.

Pennycook, Alastair.2007. "Language, Localization, and the Real: Hip-Hop and the Global Spread of Authenticity." (6)2: 101-115

Phillipson, Robert.1992. Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.

[1] Pennycook, Alastair. 2003. "Global Englishes, Rip Slyme, and Perfomativity." Journal of Sociolinguistics, 513-531.

[2] Chang, Jeff. 2005. Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. New York: St. Martins Press. 3.

[3] Ibid 212.

[4] Pennycook 2003, 517

[5] Rampton, Ben. 1999. "Styling the Other: Introduction." In Journal of Sociolinguistics, 3(4), 421-427. 423.

[6] Pennycook 2003, 515

[7] Melucci, Alberto.1985. "The Symbolic Challenge of Contemporary Movements." In Social Research, 52(4), 789-816. 801.

[8] Hill, Marc Lamont. 2008. "Toward a pedagogy of the popular: Bourdieu, hip-hop, and out-of-school Literacies." In Pierre Bourdieu and Literacy Education. London and New York: Routledge. 543.

[9] Pennycook 2003,514

[10] Ibid 514

[11] Norton, Bonny.2000. Identity and Language Learning: Gender, Ethnicity and Educational Change. New York: Longman. 5.

[12] Blackledge, Adrian and Aneta Pavlenko. 2004. Negotiation of Identities in Multilingual Contexts. London: Cromwell Press Ltd. 5.

[13] Bourdieu, Pierre.1991. Language and Symbolic Power. London: Cambridge University Press. 223.

[14] Ibrahhim, Awad.1999. "Becoming Black: Rap and Hip-Hop, Race, Gender, Identity and the politics of ESL Learning." In TESOL Quarterly, 33(3): 349-369. 351.

[15] Ibid 351

[16] Block, David.2007. "The Rise of Identity in SLA Research, post Firth and Wagner." In The Modern Language Journal, 91(1): 863-876. 866.

[17] Ibid 866

[18] Pennycook 2003, 516

[19] Pennycook 2003, 516

[20] Ibid 516

[21] Chang 2005, xi

[22] Ibrahhim 1999, 10

[23] Ibrahhim 1999, 352

[24] Pennycook 2003, 513

[25] Ibrahhim 359

[26] Ibid 363

[27] Sanchez, Deborah.2010. "Hip-Hop and a Hybrid Text in a Postsecondary English Class." In Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. (53)6: 478-487. 479.

[28] Ibid 479

[29] Ibrahhim 1999, 363

[30] Small, Krystal. 2010. Flipping the Script: (Re)constructing Personhood through Hip Hop Languaging In a U.S High School. (25)2. 35-54. 49.

[31] Ibid 49

[32] Ibid 49

[33] Barrett, Catrice. 2012. "Hip-Hopping Across China: Intercultural Formulations of Local Identities." In Journal of Language, Identity and Education.11(4): 247-260. 259.

[34] Barrett 253

[35] Ibid 253

[36] Pennycook 258

[37] Ibrahhim 1999, 366

[38] Butler. Paul.2004."Much Respect: Toward a Hip-Hop theory of Punishment." In Stanford Law Review, 56(5): 983-1016. 983.

[39] Hill 2008, 184

[40] Ibid 183

[41] Barrett, Catrice. 2013. "(Re)Imaging TESOL through Critical Hip Hop Literacy." International Journal of Critical Pedagogy. (4)3: 100-115. 100.

[42] Ibid 102

[43] Ibid 103

[44] Sanchez 2010, 480

[45] Ibid 483

[46] Ibid 486

[47] Morgan, Brian.1998. The ESL classroom: Teaching Critical Practice and Community Development. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press. 314.

[48] Ibrahim 1999, 352

[49] Hill, J. H.1999. "Styling Locally, Styling Globally: What does it Mean?" In Journal of Sociolinguistics, 3(4): 542-556. 554.

[50] Chang 2005,10

[51] Cook, Vivian.1999. "Going Beyond the Native Speaker in Language Teaching." In TESOL Quarterly, 33, 185-209. 206.

[52] Skehan, Peter. 2003. "Task-based instruction." Language Teaching, 36(1): 1-14. 36.

[53] Swain, Merrill and Sharon Lapkin.1995. "Problems in Output and the Cognitive processes they Generate: A step towards Second Language Learning." In Applied linguistic, 16(3): 371-391. 373.

[54] Canagarajah, Suresh."Lingua Franca English, Multilingual Communities and Language Acquisition." In The Modern Language Journal. 91(1): 923-929. 923.

[55] Bey, Yasiin. "Fear No Man." On Black on Both Sides [CD]. Rawkus Records.(1999).

[56] Pennycook 2003, 517

[57] Canagarajah 2007, 931